The Breed History
In medieval times, dogs used to hunt badger were termed dachshund; the name means "badger hound". The wirehaired versions were bred in order to protect the dogs from heavy brush. The first definitive records of specific breed type can be traced to the 17th century. By 1900, three varieties; a short, long, and wirehaired were recognized. The first German studbook records date to the mid 1800s. First AKC registry occurred in 1885. Standard and Miniature types are shown in separate class divisions and bred separately.
Breeding for Function
Though bred specifically to take on the tough badger, these standard-sized dogs were also used in packs to hunt wild boar. Stamina and courage were hallmarks of these hunting partners. Smaller versions of the Dachshund were used to hunt fox, and it is this variety that has become most popular. Miniature dachshunds were also in the hunt for hare and rabbit quarry. The typical companion dachshund is a medium-sized smooth coated variety. The breed is noted for below ground work and their scent and vocal skills are well developed.
Height at Withers: no standard, but they are usually under 9" (23 cm).
Weight: Miniature: less than 11 lb (5 kg) at 1 year, Standard: 16-32 lb (7-14.5 kg).
1. Solid (self colored): includes red, cream. Nose and nails are black with these dogs.
2. Bi-colored: chocolate, black, Isabella (fawn) and gray (blue), with tan markings. A small white marking is acceptable on the chest. Dark bi-colored dogs have black noses and nails but other colors may have self or brown nose and nail color.
3. Dapple: intermixed light and dark with neither color predominating. In double dapples a larger white chest marking is allowed. Single and double dapple varieties exist. In the latter, white overlays the single dapple coloration.
4. Brindle dogs have a pattern of stripes that are black or dark over the body or within the tan points.
Three haircoat types: 1. Longhaired: Slightly wavy, the haircoat is longer under the body and behind the limbs. The ears particularly, should be endowed with longer silky hair. The tail has the longest hairs of the coat, and is structured to form a flag.
2. Smooth: The shorthaired variety possesses a very flat, glossy short haircoat.
3. Wirehaired: Over the body a thick, rough outer coat and a soft undercoat are interspersed. The ear, brow and jaw are free of the wirehair.
Longevity: 12-15 years
Points of Conformation: A low slung conformation with long back and very short limbs give this dog the appearance of being able to fit down a narrow quarry den. High head carriage and energetic gait provide surprisingly good agility and speed. The head tapers and the eyes are medium sized, almond shaped and have a very darkly pigmented iris. The palpebral margins are pigmented. It is only in dapple coloring that wall eyes are accepted. Ears are pendulous, rounded and of moderate length and set, and they turn inwards towards the tips. Little stop is noted, and the nose is preferred to be pigmented black. The neck is long, slightly arched and muscular without evidence of dewlap. The topline is long and the loin is only slightly arched. The breastbone is prominent, the ribs well sprung, and a characteristic bowing of the legs typical for chondrodystrophic breeds is present. Forelimbs are generally abducted due to carpal deviation. Feet are small, well arched, and possess thick pads. Dewclaws may be removed; rear dewclaws typically are. The tail is slightly curved and carried close to level with topline.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Good in town or country, active outdoors, a gentle companion, a good alert barker, affectionate, and playful. Dachshunds are intelligent, easy to maintain because of low grooming needs, and if properly socialized, good with gentle children. They may have a strong independent, even stubborn streak, may be aggressive with strange dogs and aloof with strangers, and often have high barking and digging tendencies. They will become destructive if bored. Considered an average shedder, the coat care depends on coat type: smooth coats need minimal brushing, wire coats need to be stripped twice per annum, and a long hair coat needs daily grooming. They can tend to be biters, and this should be discouraged when young.
Normal Physiologic Variations
The merle gene produces the dapple coat color in the dachshund. Dapple dachshunds should not be bred together, as homozygous merle (MM) tend to produce microphthalmia, blindness, deafness, and other abnormalities.
The dilute gene produces the blue coat color in the homozygous state (dd). This can predispose to color dilution alopecia. In a UK study, 31.2% of Dachund litters were delivered via C-section.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. OFA reports 7.1% affected.
Hip Dysplasia and Legg-Calve Perthes Disease: Polygenically inherited traits causing degenerative hip joint disease and arthritis. OFA reports 8.1% affected. Reported 4.8x odds ratio for Legg-Calve- Perthes versus other breeds.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)/Cone-Rod Dystrophy (cord1): Hereditary disorder of retinal degeneration. There are two populations of affected miniature longhaired dachshunds, with one group presenting with night blindness that progresses to total blindness at 4 months to 2 years of age, and another group presenting between 2 years and 15 years of age. Identified in 1.66% of longhaired miniature, 1.30% of longhaired standard, and 1.19% of smooth miniature dachshunds CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. An autosomal recessive mutation in the RPGRIP1 gene is highly correlated to early age clinical PRA, and slightly less so to the later age presentation. 16% of miniature longhaired dachshunds homozygous for the mutation retain normal sight, and some affected dogs do not carry the RPGRIP1 mutation, demonstrating a more complex etiology for this disease. A second locus had been identified that may modify age of onset of the disorder. A genetic test for the RPGRIP1 mutation is available.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)/Cone-Rod Dystrophy (NPHP4): A mutation in the NPHP4 gene is responsible for this autosomal recessive form of cone-rod dysplasia in standard wire-haired Dachshunds. Affected dogs have cone and rod degeneration by 5 weeks of age, and present with pin-point sized pupils. 9.6% of standard wire-haired Dachshunds test carrier in Norway.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. Too few Dachshunds have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinosis (NCL): Dachshunds have two different fatal forms of NCL, that present with ataxia, behavior changes, and seizures. An adult-onset (4.5-6.5 years) form presents between 4.5-6.5 years of age, and a juvenile-onset form presents at 9 months of age. The juvenile-onset form is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by a mutation in the PPT1 gene, and a genetic test is available.
Mucopolysaccharidosis IIIA (MPS IIIA or Sanfilippo A): Autosomal recessive storage disease. Pelvic limb ataxia begins around 3 years of age, progresses gradually within 1-2 y to severe generalized spinocerebellar ataxia. A genetic test is available.
Progressive Myoclonic Epilepsy (PME): A fatal autosomal recessive disorder identified in miniature wirehaired dachshunds, causing progressive myoclonic twitching and seizures. The genetic mutation has been identified.
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PK): Autosomal recessive disorder causing severe hemolytic anemia, progressive osteomyelosclerosis, and hemosiderosis. Death occurs due to anemia or hepatic failure usually at less than five years of age. Occurs at a low frequency in the breed. A genetic test is available.
Narcolepsy: Rare, autosomal recessive disorder causing sudden collapse and a sleep-like state elicited by excitement. Identified in a family of dachshunds, and in other sporadic cases. A genetic test is available.
Osteogenesis Imperfecta: Rare, autosomal recessive disease seen in rough-coated juvenile dachshunds. Affected dogs present with pain, spontaneous bone and teeth fractures, joint hyperlaxity, and reduced bone density on radiography. Caused by a mutation in the SERPINH1 gene causing defective collagen synthesis.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Spinal cord disease due to prolapsed disk material. Clinical signs include back pain, scuffing of paws, spinal ataxia, limb weakness, and paralysis. Studies have shown that 76% of all dachshunds have radiographically identifiable calcified disk material by 24 months of age. Almost all dogs with IVDD have calcified disk material. Dachshunds with calcified disks had a higher rate of recurrence of IVDD. In a Japanese study, Dachshunds represented 53.3% of dogs with thoracolumbar IVDD at an average age of 5.6 years, and 12.9% of dogs with cervical IVDD at an average age of 7.8 years. Occurs at a frequency of 15.6% in the breed. Dorn reports an 57.01x odds ratio versus other breeds.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 11.63% of wirehaired miniature, 10.41% of wirehaired standard, 6.22% of longhaired miniature, 4.71% of smooth standard, 3.57% of standard miniature, and 3.03% of longhaired standard Dachshunds CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Iris Coloboma: A coloboma is a congenital defect which may affect the iris, choroid or optic disc, which may affect vision. Identified in 9.30% of wirehaired miniature, and 4.76% of smooth miniature Dachshunds CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding affected dogs.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 9.13% of longhaired miniature, 6.93% of longhaired standard, 2.33% of wirehaired miniature and standard, and 1.74% of smooth standard Dachshunds CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Corneal Dystrophy: Dachshunds can have an epithelial/stromal form of corneal dystrophy. Identified in 4.65% of wirehaired miniature and standard Dachshunds CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Cataracts: Anterior, posterior, intermediate and punctate cataracts occur in the breed. In a German study of boar-colored wirehaired Dachshunds, primary cataracts were present in 3.83%, and prominent suture lines in 2.76%. Heritabilities ranged from 0.36-0.39, with different forms of cataract positively correlated to each other. Identified in 3.32% of longhaired miniature, 3.23% of smooth standard, 2.60% of wirehaired standard, 2.38% of longhaired standard, and 2.33% of wirehaired miniature Dachshunds CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Dachshund with a cataract.
Persistent Hyaloid Artery (PHA): Congenital defect resulting from abnormalities in the development and regression of the hyaloid artery. Identified in 3.35% of wirehaired standard, 1.24% of longhaired miniature, and 1.19% of smooth miniature Dachshunds CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 2.8% positive for thyroid auto-antibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%.)
Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's Disease): Hyperfunction of the adrenal gland caused by a pituitary or adrenal tumor. Clinical signs may include increased thirst and urination, symmetrical truncal alopecia, and abdominal distention. Dorn reports an 1.80x odds ratio versus other breeds. One study found a high incidence in a family of wire-haired Dachshunds.
Mitral Valve Disease/Prolapse: Dachshunds are a breed at increased risk of developing mitral regurgitation due to myxomatous changes, and later mitral valve prolapse. Diagnosis by echocardiography. Breeding studies suggest a polygenic mode of inheritance.
Chronic Superficial Keratitis/Pannus: A bilateral disease of the cornea which usually starts as a grayish haze to the ventral or ventrolateral cornea, followed by the formation of a vascularized subepithelial growth that begins to spread toward the central cornea; pigmentation follows the vascularization. CERF does not recommend breeding any affected dogs.
Punctate Keratitis: Focal circular rings usually affecting the central subepithelial and/or anterior portion of the cornea. There often is an associated dry eye with corneal erosions. The mode of inheritance is unknown. CERF does not recommend breeding any affected dogs.
Optic Nerve Coloboma: A congenital cavity in the optic nerve which, if large, may cause blindness or vision impairment. Identified in 2.38% of smooth miniature Dachshunds CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding affected dogs.
Microphthalmia: A congenital defect characterized by small globes of the eye. Often associated with merle. Identified in 2.38% of smooth miniature, 2.33% of wirehaired miniature, and 1.66% of longhaired miniature Dachshunds CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding affected dogs.
Retinal Dysplasia: Focal retinal dysplasia and retinal folds are recognized in the breed. Identified in 2.33% of wirehaired miniature, 1.49% of wirehaired and smooth standard, and 1.08% of longhaired standard Dachshunds CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Color-dilution Alopecia: Condition seen in some blue (dilute) colored Dachshunds. Starts as a gradual onset of dry, dull and poor hair coat quality. Progresses to poor hair regrowth, follicular papules and comedomes. Hair loss and comedome formation are usually most severe on the trunk. Dorn reports an 4.56x odds ratio for developing alopecia versus other breeds. A genetic test is available for the dilute gene.
Optic Nerve Hypoplasia: Congenital malformation of the optic nerve causing blindness. Identified in 1.24% of smooth standard and 1.19% of smooth miniature Dachshunds CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Dachshund with the condition.
Urolithiasis; Xanthine, Cystine: Dachshunds are found to be a breed at increased risk of forming bladder stones. Several cases of xanthine urinary stones have been diagnosed in the breed, suggesting an inherited disorder of xanthine oxidase. The breed also has an increased incidence of Cystinuria and cystine stones versus other breeds.
Deafness: Dappled dachshunds can have congenital deafness due to the merle gene. Can be unilateral or bilateral. Diagnosed by BAER testing. In a multi-breed study; for single merles (Mm), 2.7% were unilaterally deaf and 0.9% were bilaterally deaf. For double merles (MM), 10% were unilaterally deaf and 15% were bilaterally deaf.
Cutaneous Histiocytoma: Benign dermal tumor that usually presents as a single, hairless "button-like" mass in dogs under 3 years of age. The tumor spontaneously regresses over 3 months. Seen at an increased frequency in the breed.
Sudden Acute Retinal Degeneration (SARDS): Degenerative retinal disease causing acute blindness. Age of onset from 1.5 to 15 years, with an average of 8.4 years. In one study, 9% of affected dogs were Dachshunds. Diagnose with ERG.
Congenital Myasthenia Gravis: Disorder of exercise induced muscle weakness identified in immature miniature dachshunds. Clinical signs resolve spontaneously by 6 months of age.
Nasopharyngeal Dysgenesis/stenosis: Congenital disorder characterized by expiratory cheek puffing, upper respiratory dyspnea, macroglossia, and dysphagia. Treatment is with surgery. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Sterile Panniculitis: Rare, dermatological disease of subcutaneous fat inflammation characterized by deep cutaneous nodules that often ulcerate and drain pus or oil. Treat with immunosuppressive medications. Miniature Dachshunds represent 51.2% of all cases. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Acanthosis Nigricans, Brachygnathism, Bullous Pemphigoid, Calcinosis Circumscripta, Cleft Lip/Palate, Cryptorchidism, Cutaneous Asthenia, Demodicosis, Dermoid, Entropion, Glaucoma, Heterochromia Iridis, Juvenile Cellulitis, Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, Micropapilla, Portosystemic Shunting, Seasonal Flank Alopecia, Sebaceous Adenitis, Sensory Neuropathy, Vasculitis, and von Willebrand's Disease are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Immunodeficiency and Pneumonocystis Carinii Pneumonia: Seven cases of Dachshunds under one year of age were diagnosed with P. Carinii pneumonia; all had both T-cell and B-cell deficiency. Affected dogs presented with polypnea, tachypnea, and exercise intolerance.
Uveodermatologic (VKH-like) Syndrome: Identified in a female Dachshund. Autoimmune disease manifested by progressive uveitis and depigmenting dermatitis that closely resembles the human Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome. Treat with immunosuppressive drugs. CERF does not recommend breeding any affected dogs.
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for PRA/cord1 is available from the University of Missouri and the Animal Health Trust.
Direct test for juvenile Ceroid lipofuscinosis is available from the University of Missouri.
Direct tests for pyruvate kinase deficiency and MPS are available from PennGenn.
Direct test for narcolepsy is available from Optigen.
Direct tests for "true red", black or black and tan or red with dark tips and chocolate or chocolate & tan coat colors, and black or brown nose are available from HealthGene and VetGen.
Direct test for coat length is available from DDC Veterinary and VetGen.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes CERF eye examination and patella evaluation. Optional recommended tests are Direct test for PRA/Cord1, thyroid profile including autoantibodies, and BAER test for deafness. (See CHIC website; caninehealthinfo.org).
Additional Recommended test: hip and elbow radiographs, and cardiac evaluation.
- Breed name synonyms: Teckel, Zwergteckel, Normalgrosse Teckel.
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club).
- AKC rank (year 2008): 7 (26,075 registered)
- Internet resources: Dachshund Club of America: dachshund-dca.org
National Miniature Dachshund Club, Inc.: dachshund-nmdc.org
The Dachshund Club (UK): dachshundclub.co.uk
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